01 December 2016

Europe-wide campaign to close orphanages enters new phase

Hundreds of thousands of children across Europe are growing up in institutional care. The consequences are devastating: for these children, their families and for society.

Today, we launch the second phase of Opening Doors for Europe’s Children, a pan-European campaign to strengthen families and promote the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care for children across the Continent.

The Opening Doors initiative was developed and launched in June 2013, in partnership with Eurochild. In its second phase, 3 additional international partners joined the initiative. The campaign works with a network of national partners to advocate policies and public investment that lead to the reform of child protection systems based on orphanages and other institutions, in favour of family and community based care.

This month marks the start of the campaign’s next phase, bringing on board new partners (SOS Children’s Villages International, the International Foster Care Organisation, and the European branch of the International Federation of Educative Communities) to add further impetus to our work and expanding our reach from 12 to 15 countries.

The campaign will also operate in western European countries (Spain, Belgium and Austria) to challenge the myth that institutional care is only an issue for countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

In the context of the current refugee and migrant crisis, ‘Opening Doors for Europe’s Children’ also calls for alternatives to institutional care for migrant, unaccompanied and separated children.

“Institutional care is a global issue and most definitely a pan-European problem”, says Dr. Delia Pop, Head of Programmes and Global Advocacy at Hope and Homes for Children.

“Whilst we acknowledge the progress made across a number of countries, with Phase II of the Opening Doors Campaign, our goal is to ensure that de-institutionalisation remains a key political priority. Families and children need to be at centre of policy making and investment so we can end institutional care across Europe”.

Increased visibility of Deinstitutionalisation is paying off. Opening Doors campaign data shows that the number of children growing up in institutional care across the 12 campaign countries fell by 16,000 between 2013 and 2015.

Other developments in Deinstitutionalisation across Europe include:

• Since 2015, institutional placement of children under 3 for longer than 3 months is prohibited by the Law in Lithuania

• In 2015, Campaign’s National Coordinator in Ukraine conducted a National Child Protection Audit

• Institutional care in Bulgaria has decreased by 80% since 2009

• The Cabinet Regulation and the Action Plan on Deinstitutionalisation were adopted in Latvia in 2015

• Green Paper on Alternative Care aims to improve quality of care and support to care leavers in Estonia

• The first nation-wide mapping study on children in institutional care in Greece was published in 2015

• 86% of children in care in Serbia are in foster care

• In 2015, Bosnia & Herzegovina received EU funds specifically for Deinstitutionalisation under the IPA ll programme

• In Hungary in 2014, legislation prohibited placement of children under the age of 3 in infant homes

• The number of children in institutional care has decreased by 92% in Romania since 2000

To learn more about institutional care and how we can end all institutional care in Europe visit the Opening Doors website.


*Information primarily sourced from official state sources on a national level and provided by the Opening Doors National Coordinators